Maldives History: Complete History of Maldives Country

Maldives History:

History of Maldives

The Maldives was first inhabited in the 5th century BCE by Buddhists from Sri Lanka and southern India. Over time, Islam became the dominant religion on the islands and can still be seen in the numerous mosques throughout Malé. The country’s history also notes that it had a significant amount of cowrie shells, which were used as a form of currency in ancient Asia and parts of East Africa.

During the 16th century, the Portuguese took control of Malé, but were eventually expelled 20 years later. In the 17th century, the Maldives became a sultanate under the protection of the Dutch rulers of Sri Lanka, and eventually became a British protectorate in 1887. In 1932, the first democratic constitution was established, but the country later became a republic in 1953, only to revert back to a sultanate later that year.

On July 26, 1965, the Maldives gained independence from the UK and became a presidential democracy. Despite concerns about its poor score on indices of freedom in relation to civil liberties, the country remains a presidential democracy.

In 1965, the Maldives achieved full political independence from Britain and abolished the sultanate in 1968. The country’s first president, Ibrahim Nasr, was succeeded by Maumoon Abdul Gayoom in 1978, who was reelected for a record sixth term in 2003. The Maldives joined the Commonwealth in 1982, but withdrew its membership from 2016 to 2020 due to a political dispute. The last British troops left the country on March 29, 1976, which is now celebrated as Independence Day.

In December 2004, the Maldives was struck by a devastating tsunami as a result of a massive earthquake in the Indian Ocean near Indonesia. The disaster resulted in numerous fatalities and widespread destruction of property.

During the early years of the 21st century, the Maldives government embarked on a modernization and democratization effort, focusing primarily on the country’s economy and political system. The plan also recognized the need for improvement in the legal system. In 2003, reforms were implemented to enhance human rights and governance, and a multi-party political system was established. In 2008, a new constitution was adopted which increased the checks and balances of government, empowered the legislative and judicial branches, and allowed women to run for the presidency. The country’s first presidential election with multiple candidates took place in October 2008, resulting in the election of former political prisoner Mohamed Nasheed, marking the end of Gayoom’s 30-year rule.

President Mohamed Nasheed took office after the first multi-candidate presidential election in 2008, ending the 30-year rule of former president Maumoon Abdul Gayoom. One of Nasheed’s main concerns was the threat of rising sea levels to the low-lying islands of the Maldives, due to climate change. However, his administration was faced with challenges from government officials loyal to Gayoom, among the legislature and judiciary.

In January 2012, controversy arose over Nasheed’s arrest of a senior criminal court judge, which led to weeks of protests by citizens. Ultimately, Nasheed resigned in early February and was replaced by Vice President Mohamed Waheed Hassan. Nasheed claimed that his resignation was forced by the police and military, but an official inquiry by the Commonwealth found it to be voluntary. In 2013, Nasheed received a plurality of votes in a general election, but was defeated in a second election by Abdulla Yameen Abdul Gayoom, Maumoon Abdul Gayoom’s half-brother.

The presidency of Yameen Abdul Gayoom was characterized by significant infrastructure projects funded largely by China, at the expense of the country’s long-time ally India. Yameen also suppressed criticism and jailed political opponents. In 2018, he jailed two Supreme Court justices after the court overturned the sentences of many of his opponents, leading to a state of emergency for 45 days.

However, the opposition unified and put forward a single candidate, Ibrahim Mohamed Solih, a senior parliamentarian close to Nasheed. Solih received a landslide victory in the election and was sworn into office on November 17, 2018. The new government launched probes into corruption and human rights abuses under the previous administration, which led to Yameen’s conviction on money laundering charges in November.

Solih also worked to strengthen the country’s ties with India, with Prime Minister Narendra Modi visiting the Maldives in June 2019. India committed over $2 billion in aid to the Maldives, including a pledge of $500 million towards a large-scale infrastructure project. Despite challenges in dealing with corruption and addressing other systemic issues, such as religious extremism and political violence, the government continued to make progress.

In May 2021, an improvised explosive device detonated outside Nasheed’s home, leaving him critically injured. However, he returned to the People’s Majlis in October after months of medical treatment abroad.

Maldives – History and Culture (in Short)

The Maldives has a rich and diverse history dating back to the 5th century BC. Early inhabitants of the islands were mostly Buddhists, but by 1153 CE, Islam became the dominant religion after Arab influence in the region increased. Today, the country is predominantly Islamic and is home to several stunning mosques, including the Hukuru Miskiy Mosque and the Islamic Centre. The country was once known for its abundant supply of cowrie shells, which were used as currency throughout Asia and the East African coast. Additionally, the Maldives’ strategic location in the Indian Ocean made it a significant hub of maritime activity.

The culture of the Maldives is influenced by a mix of neighboring countries, such as Sri Lanka and South India, as well as African slave ancestry. This is evident in the traditional music and dance of the country, including the Boduberu dance which showcases an African rhythm. The food culture of the Maldives is also heavily influenced by spices, with seafood and rice being staple foods. Other traditional dishes like Roshi incorporate coconut milk and fish. Chewing betel leaves with areca nut, cloves, and lime is common after meals, and older individuals may also smoke guduguda, a type of elongated pipe. Despite the country’s predominantly Muslim background, alcohol is restricted outside of resorts and is substituted with a local drink called raa.

The Maldives is steeped in folklore and legends, with many of the island’s folktales centering around the ocean and its dangers, including sea demons and spirits. This rich storytelling tradition can also be seen in the local crafts, such as lacquer works, mat weaving, coir rope making, and calligraphy. These beautiful and unique crafts are popular mementos for visitors to take home with them. The creativity and mastery of Maldivians can be seen in their intricate craftsmanship, including braided mats and jewelry.

The main staple foods in the Maldives are rice and fish, with seafood being a significant part of the local diet. The inhabitants of the Maldives use a lot of spices in their cooking, including curry, reflecting the Indian influence in the region. Coconut milk and fish are used in traditional dishes such as Roshi. After meals, locals chew foh, which is made from betel leaf, areca nut, cloves, and lime, and older people smoke guduguda, an elongated pipe that goes through a trough of water. Alcohol is not widely available, as it is only allowed in resorts, but a local brew called raa is a popular alternative.